Its Meaning and Necessity


One  of  the  most  abused and misused words in the English language is the word  love. It is used in so many ways and has so many common meanings that most  people have no clue what is meant by the word love and its true meaning.  In the first letter of St. John to the Church he makes the statement:

                "Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God and

                 he who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not

                love does not know God; for God is love....In this  is love,

                not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent his Son

                to be the expiation for our sins. Beloved if God so loved us,

                we also must love one another." (1 John 4:7-8&10-11)


We know what love is by how God has shown His love for us. God became a man to suffer the tortures of the damned simply and solely for our sake.  He gained  nothing  from  it for Himself He is infinite perfection and is Happiness itself. Their is nothing lacking in God and He needs nothing or no one outside Himself to be perfectly, infinitely content and Joyful.  Therefore, the fact that He loves  us  enough to  become a man for our sake is by demonstration the very essence of love.  All love must conform to this image or it is not love but merely human affection. So  let  us  define  what some say is indefinable but which has been defined by God Himself who is Love.

                Love is the total giving of oneself selflessly for the happiness,

                 welfare and fulfillment of the beloved.

Repeat this definition a thousand times until it becomes a part of you.  This is the way God loves us and this is how He has commanded us to love Him and one another. The Greek  word agape and the Latin word caritas (charity), both mean,  giving selflessly to another for their own sake.  All  other  forms  of  love  must first conform to this principle of selfless giving.  If they do not they can only be considered mere human affection and nothing more. Why? Because human affection, if not based upon agape, is given in the hopes the affection will be reciprocate. The motive behind mere human affection  is "self" as is everything that  is not  of  God. I remember when I was a child and into my teens I had plenty of  affection for my parents,  my family  and  my  friends but I came to realize I didn't  really  love them  in  the  truest meaning of that word until I was about sixteen.  I remember that when I would give a gift I always thought about what I would get when my turn came around.  In fact I used to make it a point to give knowing  that  if I didn't I couldn't expect a return on my "investment". Sadly, I think many people remain with this juvenile form of affection all of their lives.


There is  another  very  important  fact  about  this divine love that must be discussed.  It  is  essentially  an  act   of  the  will  and  not  an emotion.  If  it  were  merely  an  emotion  it  would  simply be  human affection  and  should  be  seen as such.  True love seeks the good of the other  for their  own  sake not  for what they  are  going  to  get  out  of  it.  Now  it  is  true  that  genuine  love  can  produce the deepest most  intense  emotions  but  it  is not  the emotion itself.  Much like the Sun which  generates  heat  and  light  but  is  not  the  heat  and  light  that  comes from it.


Love is, by nature, sacrificial.  This  is  the reason that we as Catholics have the Crucifix and not just a simple cross. The image of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity nailed to the Cross, totally vulnerable, naked and with His arms outstretched  is the perfect  image of love.  This  is  what  love  is  all about and   the depth of your capacity to love will depend on your willingness to be sacrificed upon this cross of love. The  degree that  you  hold back and resist vulnerability will be the degree  you  are incapable of loving as God loves you and as you must love Him and others. This  is  His commandment: "Love one another as I have loved you."  This is not a suggestion but a command and necessary for salvation.